After living in Krishna Temples for twelve years, mostly as a single brahmachari, or celibate student, I began my search for understanding my conditioned nature, as I felt called to be a more balanced person, and find a suitable occupation. Before this time, I was very unaware of myself, and adapted to Temple life in a way that worked for me—which is a way of dealing with one’s nature, though for me, it wasn’t consciously. I was thirty-two, and for the first time, I really understood that I needed to understand myself better.
As a result I had my Vedic astrological chart done a few times, went to psychics, and read many self-help and personal growth type books. I discovered that Prabhupada had used all the success principles recommended by the great success thinkers of the day, like Napoleon Hill and others. I was very attracted to the idea of manifesting one’s life direction, yet I was never excited enough about a course, to really apply the principles. Tony Robbins advised his listeners, to “Live with passion”, but passion, or intense enthusiasm, was always lacking in me. This was the beginning of a struggle with my conditioned nature that has continued to the present, and gave me the name of today’s blog, which I have written to pique your interest in understanding your material self in the pursuit of the spiritual quest. Everyone has to understand themselves on many different levels.
From study of myself over the years, and analysis of all the many readings and charts, I realized that I am mainly influenced by the mode or quality of goodness (sattva) and ignorance (tamas). I have very little passion, and no vaishya or sales blood in me, for which most of the motivational books are written. Thus you can likely understand why a person with my temperament, would be frustrated trying to adapt the mentality of an achiever! Of course, as with everyone’s nature, there are good and bad aspects of my conditioning. I am a peaceful person by nature, am generally easy to get along with, and rarely get disturbed by difficult situations or people (qualities of goodness). My spirituality builds on this, since I like to worship the Deity forms of the Lord, serve the devotees, and study the scriptures. On the ignorance side, I don’t like to work hard, and tend to procrastinate. If given a choice to read a book about gardening, and actually doing the work, I will choose the former.
At a certain point in my life, I had to accept that I wasn’t a person who can take something by the horns and make into my passionate desire—even for Krishna. I call such people, manifestors, who are the movers and shakers of the world. I have found that in general I adapt to conditions. Never the less, we all have to make choices to accomplish things. For instance I had a need to be married, and had to endeavor to find a suitable wife, though my nature is to work within the situation I find myself in. I have made a handful of such monumental decisions, though I generally am content. At present I am writing some books, and that takes a huge investment of time, energy, and money. For this endeavor, as well as things like creating a garden, I have to move out of my comfort zone, and my tendency to want to be peaceful, and not work too hard.
Although spiritual life is about positive change through awakening our spiritual nature by accepting what is favorable for spiritual cultivation and giving up what isn’t, our natural personality and preferred ways of dealing with the world, are not going to change much. We have to see what areas of our nature can be changed or what areas are practically immovable. The AA serenity prayer is a good perspective: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This is part of self-acceptance while we pursue our eternal spiritual life. I find it better to work with one’s nature, than to fight against it. That is how we can make our mind and conditioned nature our friend instead of an enemy.